What should a patient look for in a good liposuction doctor?

Got this question from a online publication focusing on cosmetic surgery. This was my answer and you can also read it on their website, in arabic:  https://tajmeeli.com/مقابلة-مع-أطباء-شفط-الدهون/

Independent of the reasons that brings you to a doctor’s office, there are some common common things the patient should look for, namely:

• Is the doctor in question qualified as a specialist or a consultant?

• Is he licensed to practice on that specific field of Medicine or Surgery?

• His qualifications are recognized by the local health authority?

All these questions can be answered by the clinic staff and can be verified online. This is the basic and will mean that not only is credentials were verified by a competent authority as his or her’s activity will be covered by a malpractice medical insurance.

Liposuction is a technique that can be used by different  specialties, for different reasons. However it should be done by a doctor with recognized surgical skills and adequate training and experience in liposuction. What determines the success of a liposuction is the appropriate diagnose and the correct surgical indication, as liposuction can be a  small office  procedure done under local anesthesia as a outpatient or, in the other end, a very extensive one  to be done under general anesthesia (GA), needing hospital admission and over night stay. 

Its difficult for a patient to access the doctor’s skills in a particular technique, but would advise you to take in small details during the consultation, that will help you to get an favorable or unfavorable impression about the doctor’s experience and skills:

• The first consultation is the most important step for your decision. The doctor or his staff will be asking questions regarding your medical history and previous procedures, to be able to evaluate the best possible treatment for your condition. In my practice, this will take at least one hour to take in to account all variables and came out with a surgical or treatment proposal.

• During this time you’ll be able to access the physician regarding is experience, bed side manners, is ability and attention to your complains and requirements, the clear way  he or she uses to explain the procedure, etc . Empathy is the key factor to take into your decision at that is established during consultation.

• Experienced surgeons pay more importance to safety and won’t be doing or proposing very extensive procedures. Liposuction can be dangerous depending on your health status and extension of the procedure. I don’t go over 4/5 liter in one procedure even under GA.

• During consultation you are free to ask any question regarding the doctor’s experience: where he trained,  home many procedures have he done, which liposuction techniques is he familiar with, had any complications, how did he manage those, etc

• The  surgeon should  address the complications and the post op care  during the consultation.  Otherwise ask directly. It ‘s usually a good measure of experience

• Also inquire how available is the surgeon for the pre and  post op care: will he reachable on his cell phone, can you send questions by email, will he be doing the pot op. etc

• Before and after pictures can help on accessing the doctor’s work, but remember: only the best result are usually shown, people are different and will have different results, and there is no way you can be sure that the cases shown were done by the doctor

• Liposuction is not indicated to treat obesity. If the doctor propose it up front, be suspicious. Obesity treatment means weight management.

• The other factor is skin quality: a person with very lax skin and stretch marks is usually a very poor candidate for liposuction alone. 

Also look for references regarding the surgeon you consulted, from other patients, from other doctors you came across and from the person you got the reference from. Careful with the online forums and reviews, as they are not independent ones. 

Regarding price, a very important factor, don’t follow for the cheapest  or the most expensive as price is not a measure of competence. Do make sure you know what is included in your quote, if there are any hidden expenses, what is covered and what would happen in case you are  faced with a complication. 

This indications are not exclusive of liposuction and can be used for any other medical procedures. But remember, someone that takes attention to details and outcomes, putting  your safety first, is usually a  more experienced and competent surgeon. Even in the best hands and the best conditions, complications do happen. Its the way the surgeon deals with it, namely preventing them, that makes the diference. 

Hope this will help making your decision.

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Dr Francisco de Melo is a board certified Plastic Surgeon with more than 20 years of experience in plastic, reconstructive and cosmetic surgery in Portugal and the UAE. Before moving to Dubai in 2012,  was a Consultant Plastic Surgeon and  Head of Surgery Department in the Military Hospital of Lisbon in Portugal.

Mobile : +971585887265